Space agency moves a step closer to supersonic passenger flights | Space

Oh for the glory days of travel, when the seats were bigger, the food was better, and you could jet across the Atlantic in less than three hours.

Since the 2003 end of Concorde, of course, flitting quickly across the Atlantic has been a thing of the past.

Flights between London and New York take around eight hours, or closer to seven in the other direction.
NASA is moving a step closer to offering supersonic passenger flights. (CNN)

The record currently stands at just under five hours from New York to London, pushed on by a favourable jetstream.

But now, the thought of supersonic travel has been mooted again – by none other than NASA, which reckons that New York-London flight could take as little as 90 minutes in the future.

The space agency has confirmed in a blog post about its “high-speed strategy” that it has recently studied whether commercial flights at up to Mach 4 – nearly 5000km/h – could take off in the future.

NASA is looking at whether commercial flights could hit Mach 4. (CNN)

The study by NASA’s Glenn Research Center suggested that there are already “potential passenger markets… in about 50 established routes”.

These routes were confined to transoceanic ones, including over the North Atlantic and the Pacific, because nations including the US ban overland supersonic flight.

However, NASA is developing “quiet” supersonic aircraft, called X-59s, as part of its Quesst mission.

The agency hopes that the new aircraft could eventually prompt modification of these rules, with aircraft flying between Mach 2 and Mach 4 (2450km/h-4900km/h).

Concorde’s maximum speed was Mach 2.04, or 2518km/h.

A jet travelling at Mach 4 could potentially make a transatlantic crossing in as little as 90 minutes.

Following the studies, NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program (AAV) will now move to its next research phase for high-speed travel, contracting companies to develop designs and “explore air travel possibilities, outline risks and challenges, and identify needed technologies to…

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